Jan. 3, 2007

By Emily Pambianchi

Two men on the Hawks basketball court have put their heart and soul into becoming members of the SJU basketball team. They were not scouted by coaches for their basketball skills but rather chose to try out for the team when they began their collegiate careers at Saint Joseph's University. Pete Kathopoulis, a junior, and Marcus Mitchell, a sophomore, each have their own story as to why they've decided to play for the Hawks and how much they enjoy the basketball program.

Pete Kathopoulis

As a young child, Kathopoulis endured playing soccer at the suggestion of his father. However, once a basketball hoop was put up in the back of his house, he began shooting around and fell in love with the sport. He could be seen on the sidelines at the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Hawk Hill when he was younger, fetching any balls that flew out of bounds, and witnessing the basketball program Coach Phil Martelli was creating. He says, "As I got older, I saw the type of program Coach Martelli was running and realized it would be a good fit for me."

Kathopoulis attended the Haverford School, a prestigious all-boys school in the area, and focused on academics and basketball. His senior year he was coached by Steve Cloran, a relative of Don DiJulia's, the SJU Director of Athletics, and Cloran helped Kathopoulis toward his goals of playing for SJU. Kathopoulis was happy with his results at Haverford, being a three-time selection to the All-Inter AC teams and surpassing 1,000 points in his career.

SJU became a reality when he was accepted, and he decided to study international relations with the hopes of becoming a lawyer in the future. Although he was not offered a scholarship to play basketball for the Hawks, he knew he wanted to play for Martelli, and tried out for the team. He was accepted as a walk-on in 2004 and made a spectacular shot in the last minute of his first game as a Hawk basketball player against LaSalle. He admits that his freshman year was hard, mixing classes and traveling, but has become used to the grueling schedule and loves being a part of the team.

Despite being a walk-on player, Kathopoulis, has seen action in many games and has added depth to the SJU squad. Last season he played in 14 games and earned the George Senesky Memorial Award for his outstanding academic record. He is happy to be playing with the team and excited they all share his passion for the game. "Everybody on the team wants to play, that's a fact," he shares. He is looking forward to the 2006-07 season to be placed on the court to help the team in certain situations and to prove to those who have doubted him, that he can play at the Division I level.

Over the summer he was offered to play for the Greek basketball team Paok Thessaloniki, where Peja Stojakovic played when he was younger, but Kathopoulis turned down the offer in order to continue his studies. He hopes that after graduating from SJU he can return to Greece and play with their squad for awhile before attending law school. He is interested in issues such as bankruptcy, real estate, and international matters as well as basketball, and his academic record certainly show his zest for learning.

Kathopoulis is a young man who is ready to provide for the basketball team when given the chance. He is excited to be a member of the team and also strives to excel in his classes. He knows his parents have a lot to do with him always obtaining the best, "they always push for the best," he remarks, and he is grateful for their guidance.

Marcus Mitchell

Marcus Mitchell was surrounded by the game of basketball and the idea of playing for the Hawks as a young boy. His father is an alumnus of St. Joe's and played for the school during his college years. Marcus and his friends played most days after school and he began to develop the basketball skills required for a Division I school.

He attended Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia for two years and gained valuable skills for the game, then transferred to Athens Area for his final two years where he had great experiences on their team. He was a two-time All-Northern Tier League First Team selection from Athens and as a senior became the league's MVP, in addition to competing for the school's track squad. There was no doubt that his athletic skills would follow him to college.

In 2005 he set foot onto Hawk Hill and decided to try-out for the basketball team, following in his father's footsteps. His dad, Eric, played for SJU under coach Jack McKinney. He decided to study at SJU because of the proximity of the school to his home and the reputation of the Haub School of Business. "I'm home," he says, citing to the level of comfort he feels at St. Joe's.

He made the squad last year and saw action in six games. He learned to adapt to the traveling schedule of the team and had no problem transitioning from a high school level of play to the Division I collegiate level. He understands that at this level there are higher stakes for the team, but enjoys playing just the same. This season he is looking to coach Phil Martelli for guidance, to do what he needs in order to help the team perform to the best of their ability, and to play his role on the squad. He wants to continue developing as a player and person on the team and see things fall into place with the hard work he puts forth.

As a sophomore business major, Mitchell is not yet certain where life will take him after his career at Saint Joseph's University, but he anticipates good things to come and looks forward to his time playing under Martelli and for SJU.

Both Pete Kathopoulis and Marcus Mitchell have shown great perseverance during their time here on Hawk Hill and throughout their lives. These young men are team players in the truest sense, and their unquestionable character will only serve to help them in their future endeavors.